Art and Design

Whether you want to impact lives and culture through painting, capture the attention of the world through iconic graphic design, or learn the rare craft of book art, we will challenge and support your authentic, artistic growth so you can master your passion.

Our graduates work at the Figge Art Museum, Jeff Koons Studio New York, Genesis Health Systems, and others.

Senior Honors Art Show

View the work of our 2020 seniors on Flickr

Senior Honors 2020

Ambrose Advantages

  • A Contemporary and Complete Art Experience
  • Craft Your Degree to Your Passion
  • Learn From Professional Artists and Designers

abstract panting

Design Lab

Graphic Designer at Mac laptop

Creativity is a path every artist travels. At St. Ambrose, new experiences, exploration, and personal discovery will fuel the journey. And, as our faculty guide, spark, and elevate your artistic growth, you'll gain the confidence to excel at what you love.

Use Art to Help Others

student painting

Art Therapy Minor

Give people a creative way to express their deepest thoughts and feelings. Art and Psychology majors can minor in Art Therapy and create a career focused on service. You can empower clients to unlock, understand, heal, and grow.

See All Art Minors

More Information on Art and Design

What will I learn?

At St. Ambrose, we deliver a contemporary and complete art experience with the choice of three supplemental concentrations – Book and Print; Graphic Design; and Painting – and seven minors.

For each concentration, a core set of courses will develop skills in basic drawing, problem-solving, writing, and learning how to conduct relevant and accurate research.

In later semesters you will learn to synthesize influences and establish an original voice. You will explore and build creativity to establish your niche in the field.

How can I expand on my classroom education?

Service is fundamental to who we are as a university. At SAU, you can see the world through the eyes of a refugee by helping one acclimate to life in the U.S. You can give a few hours to help campus neighbors prepare their homes for winter, clean litter from an iconic river, and stand with your peers to advance social justice. Service expands your vision and understanding of the world, your community, and yourself. It becomes part of who you are as an artist. 

In fact, go further and touch more lives with your compassion. We are one of few universities in Iowa offering Peace Corps Prep, a series of courses that can make you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions after college. Most students can earn the certificate – awarded by the Peace Corps – without taking extra courses. Click here to learn more or contact your faculty advisor.

Act on your interests and values, and expand them, too, side-by-side with your peers. We have 80+ student clubs and organizations.

What are some possible job outcomes?

There are so many ways to use your creativity and opportunities to perfect or share your craft.

As a professional artist, you can build a career in virtually every facet of work.

Here's just a sampling of job titles:

  • graphic or web designer
  • gallery director
  • curator
  • museum educator or preparatory
  • photojournalist
  • visual communications specialist
  • production artist
  • illustrator
  • research assistant
  • design assistant
  • project coordinator
  • typographer
  • book production artist
  • sign painter
  • media designer
  • printer
What have alumni of this program done?
  • After graduation, Brittney Allen '14 interviewed for a summer internship at Lynco Products. They were so captivated by her work they created a full-time position for her.
  • Munir Sayegh '11, a double major in graphic design and marketing, was awarded a post-graduate Fulbright Scholarship to study Arabic calligraphy and typography in Egypt.
  • Heather (Behrens) White '10, a triple major in graphic design, book arts, and marketing, is the Creative Design and Marketing Coordinator for Genesis Health System and has a successful freelance design business, Heather White Design.
  • Maurita (Flo) Fitzpatrick '11 paired a marketing minor with her art degree. Today she works for WEA Member Benefits in Madison, Wisc., as a marketing assistant. She also is self-employed as the owner of Maurita Fitzpatrick Graphic Design.
Art and Design Facilities

We believe in practice, play, and discovering your potential – and we give you room to do all three.

Our Art and Design Department is in the Galvin Fine Arts Center. The main drawing and painting studio is 1,600 square-feet of beautifully-lit open space. Graphic Design classes are held in Mac computer labs and our book arts/printmaking/papermaking studio is not only unique, it is fully equipped.

Galvin is home to two public galleries – the Morrissey and Catich – for you to exhibit your work. You'll take some foundation and advanced courses  in studios at the Figge Museum in downtown Davenport, and as a huge bonus, our students can visit the museum's collection, attend lectures, and participate in workshops for free.

Art Staff

Joseph Lappie, MFA
Professor and Chair

Joseph specializes in teaching bookmaking, drawing, letterpress, papermaking, and traditional & non-traditional forms of printmaking. He works to integrate artmaking with community building, social justice, and art as therapy.

Instagram: joseph_lappie_art
Linkedin: joseph-lappie-a602337

Courses Taught
2D Design
Life Drawing
Screen Print

Recent Exhibitions
Seeking Balance, Laramie County Library. Cheyenne, WY, 2023
Faculty & Staff Exhibition, Catich Gallery, Davenport, IA, 2022
The Book As Art, Decatur Arts Alliance, Decatur, GA, 2022
HABITAT artist's books, Laramie County Library. Cheyenne, WY, 2022
Narratives of the Possible, Laramie County Library, Laramie, WY, 2021
Narratives of the Possible, Laramie County Library, Clearmont, WY, 2021
Romeo & Juliet - a web series in shadows, Allaert Auditorium, Davenport, IA, 2021
The EVAC exhibit, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, IA, 2020
A Figural Exhibition, The In Art Gallery, Online, 2020
Festschrift For Bill, Marriot Library, Salt Lake City, UT, 2020
Pandemic, Artist's Book House, Evanston, IL, 2020
Sweet 16, Public Space One, Iowa City, IA, 2019
Personal Mythologies, Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA, 2018
Yuko Nii Foundation's Permanent Collection Show, WAH Center, Brooklyn, NY, 2018
Me, You, and a Few of Our Friends, Ann Wright Wilson Gallery, Georgetown, KY, 2018
The Book As Art: Flight Edition, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Atlanta, GA, 2018
Faculty Exhibition, Catich Gallery, Davenport, IA. 2018

Professional Organizations
College Arts Association
College Book Arts Association
Mid American Print Council
North American Hand Papermakers
Southern Graphics Council International

Art and Design
Galvin Fine Arts Center 07
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA

Renee Meyer Ernst, MFA

Renee teaches all levels of graphic design and specializes in branding & identity systems, interaction design, and digital art. Her personal work explores notions of forming identity within cross-cultural contexts.

Instagram: @reneemeyerernst

Courses Taught
Branding & Identity Systems
Computers in Art
Interaction Design
Motion Graphics
Professional Practices
Publication Design

Recent Exhibitions
Motherland, KADU (Korean Adoptees Diaspora Art & CultUre), Maru Arts Center & Korea National Assembly, Insadong, Seoul, South Korea, 2023
Spacemaking, Morrissey Gallery, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA, 2023
Faculty Exhibition, Catich Gallery, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA, 2022
42nd Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA, 2021
#social International Exhibition, CICA Museum, Gimpo, Gyeonggi, South Korea, 2021
Women Artists Solo Exhibition, Iowa Arts Council, Governor's Office, Capitol Building, Des Moines, IA, 2020
Christopher Reno & Renee Meyer Ernst, Quad City Arts, Rock Island, IL, 2019
The Magnificently Mundane, Visual Arts Gallery, University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield, IL, 2019

Professional Organizations
AIGA: The Professional Association of Design

Art and Design
Galvin Fine Arts Center 143
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA

Kristin Quinn, MFA

Kristin teaches all levels of painting and drawing.

Instagram: @painterquinn

Courses Taught
3D Design
Experimental Drawing
Life Drawing
Painting I
Painting Lab

Recent Exhibitions
Featured Artist for Fall Art Tour, Wantoot Gallery, Mineral Point, WI, 2023
Dubuque Biennial Exhibition, Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA, 2023
Waterworks: Paintings from the North Coast, Solo Sabbatical Exhibition, Catich Gallery, Davenport, IA, 2023
Faculty Exhibition, Catich Gallery, Davenport, IA, 2021
Hard Won, Not Done, Invitational, Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine, IA, 2020
Faculty Exhibition, Catich Gallery, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA, 2020
Flyways, Solo Exhibition, Wantoot Gallery, Mineral Point, WI, 2019
Iowa Biennial Exhibition, Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA, 2019

Art and Design
Galvin Fine Arts Center 132
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA

Chirstopher Reno, MFA
Clinical Asst. Professor and Director of Catholic and Morrissey Gallaries

Chris teaches all levels of painting and water media and introductory studio design (2D and 3D). He also directs the Catich and Morrissey Galleries and gallery-related internships.

FB: Work by Christopher Reno
IG: @cwreno2001

Courses Taught
Painting Fundamentals
3D Design
Introductory Topics: Watercolor
Paintin I
Painting II
Painting III
Painting IV
Internship Art

Recent Exhibitions
Christopher Reno and Carla Markwart, Galesburg Civic Art Center, Galesburg, IL, 2018
Photo Sensitive, Olson-Larsen Gallery, Des Moines, IA, 2018
Piecing It Together, Hawn Gallery, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 2017

Art and DesignGalvin Fine Arts Center
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA

Randy Richmond
Adjust Professor and Computer Lab Techncial

Randy teaches digital photography and supervises the Galvin Mac lab.


Courses Taught
Digital Photography

Recent Exhibitions
"Subtext and Overstory", Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa 2022
"Compelling Ground", Brunnier Art Museum, Ames, Iowa 2021
"Verisimilitude", Figge Museum of Art, Davenport, Iowa 2019
Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibit at the Figge, Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa 2018 & 2022
"Photo Sensitive", Olson Larsen Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa 2018
"Le Paysage", Darkroom Gallery, Essex Junction, Vermont 2017
"Picturing the Prairie", Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa 2016
Dubuque Biennial, Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa 2015 & 2017

Art and Design
Galvin Fine Arts Center
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA


Scholarships are available for students who show exemplary talent in their artwork. If you have that type of creative passion, we want to talk to you about how studies at St. Ambrose can enrich your talent and help lead to several fulfilling career paths.

An art scholarship recognizes and rewards your special gifts and can provide important financial help for your studies. The Art Scholarship is comprised of two parts: a Portfolio and QuestionnaireClick here to learn more about submitting your portfolio.

Not quite ready? Get a review of your artwork

Share some samples of your work with an Art faculty member to get early feedback about your portfolio before putting it together formally. Send a few .jpg or .pdf files through a quick and secure system: click here to upload your artwork.

You can also read some tips on how to compile a great portfolio.

Digital submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis, but preference is given to those who submit before March 10.


Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art and Design

IMPORTANT: Beginning in Fall 2021, the BA in Art will switch to a BA in Art and Design with the choice of a concentration in Graphic Design, Painting, or Print & Book.

Required Core (30 credits):

+AD 100 Drawing
+AD 110 2D Design
+AD 120 3D Design
+AD 140 Computers in Art
+AD 160 Print/Paper/Book I
AD 200 Figure Composition
WI-AD 310 Professional Practices
AD 380 Visual Narratives
+AH 250 Art Through the Ages I
+AH 251 Art Through the Ages II

Choose One Concentration Below:
Graphic Design, Painting, or Print and Book

See course descriptions in the online catalog

+ satisfies a general education requirement
WI writing intensive

Art Minors

The Art and Design Department offers seven minors:

  • Art (for non-Art majors)
  • Art Therapy
  • Arts Administration
  • Design and Interactive Media
  • Graphic Design
  • Painting
  • Print and Book

View complete details on the Art Minors page


Graphic Design

Whether you aspire to work for a major advertising firm, create small business websites, or direct the visual voice of a magazine, your Art and Design degree paired with a Graphic Design concentration supplies the skills and confidence to succeed no matter your direction.

All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Concentration (24 credits):
+AD 180 Motion Graphics
AD 210 Typography
+AD 240 Designing Data
AD 320 Digital Illustrations
AD 340 Publication Design
AD 350 Branding and Identity Systems
AD 390 Interaction Design Lab (6 credits)

Read course descriptions

+ satisfies a general education requirement
WI writing intensive


Whether your passion is rooted in abstract or realism, or you simply desire to share your voice through color, a concentration in Painting will help you grow as a fine artist.

Our faculty excel at one-on-one interaction and guidance and apply it to everything from mixing paint to discussing your creative growth and ambition.

All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Concentration (24 credits)
+AD 170 Water Media
+AD 220 Printmaking
+AD 250 Experimental Drawing
+AD 270 Painting I
AD 300 Figure Drawing
AD 370 Painting Lab (9 credits)

Print and Book

Our students use their craft to comment on and contribute to society.

And our faculty prepare you for a professional career and life-long involvement in the arts by teaching artistic and technical skills, aesthetic judgment, critical thinking, and historical understanding.

All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Concentration (24 credits):
AD 210 Typography
+AD 220 Printmaking
+AD 225 Papermaking
+AD 260 Bookbinding
+AD 280 Screen Print
AD 360 Print/Paper/Book Lab (6 hours)
ENGL 317 Creative Writing Workshop

Meet one of our alums

Adam Little '11 said he absolutely valued – and still values – the faculty at Ambrose. "The instructors allowed me to develop in a way that was specific to me and supported me along the way. I was never discouraged from pursuing or experimenting with new ideas/techniques/materials. The staff at St Ambrose are some of the most giving and understanding teachers I have ever met."

Apply Visit Info


Joseph Lappie, MFA, Department Chair

Galvin Fine Arts Center 7
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, Iowa 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.